Has COVID changed attitudes to outsourced marketing?

Whether your business is in pivot, bounce-back or thrive mode right now (and let’s face it we all know at least one business in each of those categories) – one thing we all need to succeed are the right people (outsourced or employees), doing the right things and executing them really well.

Not easy, when you consider the impact COVID has had on internal teams, recruiting and access to finance.

Let’s take a closer look.

Are employees easier or harder to recruit?

Back in 2019, low unemployment made hiring challenging. Since 2020, those recruiting have faced a completely different problem – the process for finding new employees is now completely virtual. And according to LinkedIn, 84% of talent professionals say virtual recruiting will outlast COVID-19.

The video interview has gone from being a first-round screening exercise to the whole process. Recognising and testing knowledge and skillsets in this way is (relatively) straightforward. Identifying culture fit is trickier.

This is especially tough for scaling businesses for whom every hire is business-critical and whose contribution can quite literally make the difference between success and failure. Mistakes on new hires are costly because they take time, and money to resolve.

Let’s not get too downbeat though. In a recent report of 500 growth businesses, the Business Growth Fund reported that 56% felt company culture had strengthened during the pandemic. Plus, there is now an infinite pool of employees and employers since we are no longer location dependant, and this is a really positive change. So are Marketing teams fully loaded and ready to go? Well, not necessarily.

BGF also report that 50% of growth businesses have said it’s been harder to access funding and it is clear from the demand we are seeing in the market, that internal teams often do not have all of the resources they need.

The market won’t wait!

Competitive advantage is made up of many factors, one of which is speed. A lot of business I talk to want to move quickly right now. For some, it’s the need to make up for missed revenue targets in 2020 that is driving the urgency. Others have newly released budgets and want to ensure they hit the ground running and more than ever ensure they get value from every Pound spent.

Whatever the specific driver, teams want to move quickly.

Businesses have multiple choices. They can either dive headfirst into virtual recruiting or to use Gregory Lewis’s term they can ‘build and borrow’ – which is a reference to investing more in team development and moving existing employees around the team and into different roles to better meet the needs of the business.

Both of these take time to do well.

A practical solution – hire AND partner

Employees are the lifeblood of a business and outsourced partners, agencies or consultants will never replace them.

When it comes to Marketing, there are so many specialist roles and activities – it’s likely you will never reach a point of hiring every single one of them. Strategy, content, creative, production, analytics, software, systems – the list is vast.

Breadth and depth of capability are essential because building brand awareness and trust, and growing your market share can never be achieved with a few isolated tactics.

Outsourced partners can not only mobilise very quickly, but they also bring a fresh perspective and specialist capability to your business which is a game changer – especially if you are looking to launch into a new sector or have recently pivoted your approach and strategy.

Author: Helen Brown, Director and Co-Founder Seeblue Marketing

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